California LifeLine Program offers discounted home phone and cell phone services to eligible households. However, only one California LifeLine discount gets permitted per household apart from the teletypewriter users and participants for the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program. Every household must select to receive the discount either on a home phone or cell phone, but not on both. 

    Moreover, households cannot receive the California Lifeline discount from multiple wireless phone companies. The households that do not observe the one discounted service per household rule won’t get their discounts and may face prosecution by the US government. On this note, receiving multiple discounted cell phone services goes against the California LifeLine Program’s rules.

    Most importantly, all California service providers offering traditional residential landline services provide the California LifeLine program. Customers can qualify for free government phones in one of two ways. One, by participating in an approved public assistance program or attaining the California LifeLine program’s household income guidelines. You also need to renew your benefits annually to continue receiving them.

    What Benefits Do California lifeline providers?

     California LifeLine program offers discounts for wireless services that include:

    i) Service activation discount

     Customers applying for California LifeLine service for the first time or switching from another Lifeline service provider will get up to $39 toward the cost of activating wireless service.

    ii) Monthly service discount

    California LifeLine offers a monthly service discount of up to $14.85. However, many plans feature unlimited talk and text and some GB of data. Notably, the service providers’ rates, data speeds, and plan features differ, so it’s advisable to compare available plans before choosing your provider.

    Fortunately, the eligible households can get a discount on, or reimbursement of, connection/activation charges for wireless service less than twice per year. For any additional wireless connection or activation charges imposed when switching carriers, the wireless provider can either nullify the charge or charge you the total price for connection or activation.

    Notably, California LifeLine does not provide a discount on wireless devices, but some carriers feature a free device with activation or contract renewal. The participating carriers don’t need a contract that lasts more than two years. You cannot get charged a restocking fee if you return your Lifeline program mobile device within three business days of activation.

    What is The Application Process for California LifeLine Program?

    california lifeline program

    The California LifeLine service qualifying provider will notify the California LifeLine Administrator for the CPUC. Then, the Administrator will approve or deny your application depending on your eligibility status. Afterward, the Administrator will forward a California LifeLine application form, which gets mailed in a pink envelope. You must either fill out the application form online using the personal identification number (PIN) attached with the application or mail your f form to the address provided.

    However, the mailed application should be received by the due date printed on the form (approximately 44 days), and don’t send the application form to your lifeline service provider. You may qualify for California LifeLine depending on government assistance program enrollment (“program-based”) or on your household income level (“income-based”). You only need to use just one of these two criteria to determine your eligibility.

    On the other hand, you will get a letter from the California LifeLine Administrator notifying you if you got approved or denied for California LifeLine. If your application were unsuccessful, you would continue on full-priced regular service if you subscribed for service before applying for the program. If you qualify, your discount will get included in your monthly plans.

    Who Is Eligible for California LifeLine Service?

    As mentioned earlier, you may qualify for free phones for seniors in California through either program-based or income-based eligibility criteria:

    1) Program-Based Qualification

    You are eligible for California LifeLine Program if you or any person in your household participates in any of the following government-aided programs:

    •  Food Stamps, CalFresh, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8
    • National School Lunch Program (NSLP) (free, not reduced, lunch program)
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
    • Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)
    • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
    • Medicaid/Medi-Cal
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Head Start Income Eligible (Tribal Only)
    • Federal Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit Program
    • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
    • Tribal TANF

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF):

    • (StanWORKs)Stanislaus Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids 
    •  (WTW) Welfare-to-Work
    • Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN)
    • (CalWORKs) California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids 

    Complete the ” Program-based ” section in the application form if you qualify for California LifeLine, following the benefits under any government assistance programs. Just fill in the circle after the appropriate public assistance program for your household. Besides, you will have to submit proof of participation in the program and your application form. 

    However, the accepted forms of proof include:

    • A copy of the current or prior year’s statement of benefits
    • A notice or letter of participation
    • A program ID card
    • Another official program document indicates you or your family member’s enrollment.

    2) Income-Based Qualification

    Generally, you are eligible for the California Lifeline program if your household’s annual gross income equals at or less than the below annual income limits:

    • For a household of 1–2 members, the annual income limit is $28,500 per year. 
    • For a household of 3 members, the annual income limit
    • stands at $33,100 per year.
    • For a household of 4 members, the annual income limit
    • stand at $40,300 per year.
    • Add $7,200 per person for every additional member after 4 people. 

    Notably, a household comprises adults and children, relatives and non-relatives living together at the same address and sharing bills and expenses. California residents applying for the free phones for seniors on social security must seek approval before getting the California Lifeline discounts.

    Income Documentation

    If you are not a participant in any qualifying public assistance programs, you must apply for California LifeLine regarding your household income. Fill out the section of the application form titled “Income-based.” However, you need to prove that your total household income equals or is below the California LifeLine maximum.

     Additionally, the accepted forms of proof include:

    • Child support documents
    • A copy of the foremost page of your prior year’s tax return
    • A divorce decree
    • Income statements or pay stubs for three successive months within the current year
    • Statement of benefits from programs including Social Security, VA, unemployment, workers’ compensation, etc.
    • Any other documents that show your household’s annual income.

    Notably, send copies of all proof forms; do not send originals. You also must submit your housing status, whether temporary or permanent, your date of birth, and the endmost four digits of your Social Security number or Tribal ID number. Again, the household you are applying for California LifeLine must be your primary residence, and you cannot currently receive Lifeline discounts. You cannot be dependent on someone else’s income tax return.

    Furthermore, qualified participants with a household member utilizing a TTY device may qualify for two phone lines through the California LifeLine discount. Household income must include all taxable and non-taxable income acquired by everyone in your household, which includes, and is not limited to:

    • Spousal support (alimony) and child support
    • Wages and salaries
    • Interest and dividends
    • Grants,  allowances, gifts, and stipends
    • Social Security and pensions
    • Rental income
    • All cash and non-cash employment income (including self-employment)
    • Public-assistance payments

    How To Apply For The California Lifeline Program?

    • The first step is to pick a participating cellphone company. If you have already subscribed to a specific phone company, you can call the company and confirm if they participate in the LifeLine program. Alternatively, you may choose a new wireless provider that serves your area by searching online. Notably, cell phone companies offer different lifeline service plans, so shop around.
    • The next step is that the cellphone company will offer you a Lifeline application form bearing an Enrollment Code and a Personal Identification Number (PIN) packed in a pink envelope. You can look at a copy of a sample California LifeLife application form via the California lifeline website.
    • However, to get the California LifeLine benefits, you must fill out this form, sign it, and return it to the California LifeLine Administrator and any needed documents by the due date provided on the form. 
    • On the other hand, you may also apply online at the California lifeline login. Then, the wireless phone company will verify your identity and whether you attain the one cell phone per household requirement and then process your application.
    • If you have any further reservations about your application, status, or due dates, you can contact the California LifeLine Administrator’s hotline using 1-866-272-0349. Notably, if you are a California Lifeline recipient, you must renew your participation annually. If you have queries concerning your renewal, call the California Lifeline Administrator using 1-877-858-7463 or 1-888-858-7889 (TTY).

    Bottom line

    To enjoy the best California lifeline program discounts, you must avail proof of government program participation or proof of gross income level. However, discounts offered by the California and federal Lifeline programs get restricted to one per household, and it’s renewable yearly.